MEMBER ARTICLE: Breaking the Taboo – talking about our mental health
13 May 2019
By Recon member pissdrinker
"Hi, I'm [insert name] and I have Depression."
Every time I open up social media, I see fellow members of the fetish/kink community struggling with their own mental health, whilst at the same time being wary of bringing this up with family, friends and potential partners, for fear of rejection.
Why is it still difficult to talk openly about mental health? Why should it be hard to open up to the people in our lives when we are dealing with a mental health condition, without fear of being judged or treated differently? If you say to someone that you have a physical health problem, you will get sympathy and support, if you say you have a mental health issue, you risk being rejected.
It is time for the taboos surrounding mental health to be done away with once and for all. Just as we have been fighting for equality in terms of our sexuality and our gender identity, it is important that we challenge the taboos surrounding our mental health.
40% of the LGBT+ people are living with mental health issues – compared to 25% of the wider population. It is a crisis that can no longer be ignored – and thankfully we are starting to see a shift towards a greater willingness to talk about the issues surrounding mental health. But there is still a long way to go.
Speaking personally, I have lived with depression for all of my adult life. It does limit what I can do from time to time – but it is a matter of managing my condition and not being controlled by it. The best decision I made was to be open about it – talking really does make a difference.
In the kink community, honesty, trust and communication are vital parts of our lifestyle. We need to talk openly with our partners about our needs and desires – and that should include frank discussion of our mental health. It is important that the people in our lives understand that having a mental health condition is part of our lives, but it does not define us. It can limit us at times and there are times when we might need space or more support. Sharing the signs that people need to look out for means that our play will be safer and more enjoyable.
Many men are still reluctant to talk about mental health – it is seen by too many as a sign of weakness. That simply is not true. It takes strength to talk openly about that side of your lived experience. It takes strength to reach out for support. It takes strength to take help when it is offered.
If someone in your life opens up about a mental health concern, all you need do is to listen to them and not to judge them. They will show you how you can best support them.
Of course, looking after yourself is vital. We have all sorts of resources for looking after our physical health. We also need to look after our mental health. There are many things you can do in the area of self-care – for some people taking time out to listen to favourite music once a day gives them a chance to recharge their batteries. Taking a long hot bath works for others. Going out for a jog, writing in a journal, enjoying a bar of chocolate – there are many things that bring us pleasure or a moment for ourselves. Look at what works for you – and make sure that you do find time in your busy day for some 'me' time. You will hopefully feel better for it – and better able to tackle the challenges to come. Also, you can only look after someone else, if you look after yourself first.
For many, sex is another great way to engage in some self-care. Whether on your own or with a partner (or partners), sexual activity can trigger all sorts of positive effects on both body and mind. So, having a wank is actually good for your mental health. And yes, there are those who live a chaste lifestyle – there are still ways you can find to trigger positive effects!
We are seeing a range of support services spring up to help people experiencing a mental health crisis. Whether that is Crisis Textline in the US or the newly launched SHOUT service in the UK, SOS Amitié Distress helpline in France, Telefonseelsorge in Germany or a service more local to you, there are people out there who will be there for you in time of crisis – you don't have to face these things alone.
So, let us all commit to working to break down the taboos surrounding mental health. Let us all talk about these things more openly and let us listen to those in our lives who need to talk. Let us remember that it is never a sign of weakness to be living with a mental health condition. It is never a sign of weakness to reach out for support.
Let us look after ourselves – and one another. It takes a small amount of effort to bring about a huge change.
Our day to day lives will be better for it. And our kink lives will be better for it.
Recon ID: pissdrinker (message me if you would like to talk about any of these issues – I am here to listen)
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